The Difference Between Casey Affleck and Nate Parker? Community Accountability.
Award season is officially underway for the arts, and some of our favorite films, television shows, and actors and actresses are finally getting the recognition they deserve. But one film is noticeably missing.
Though initially predicted to be both a box office hit and a strong contender for awards, Nate Parker’s “Birth Of A Nation” fell flat in both areas, most likely because of the college rape scandal Parker was embroiled in as well as his unrepentant attitude concerning the case. However, Casey Affleck (younger brother of Ben Affleck) has already nabbed a Golden Globe nomination for his role in the film “Manchester By The Sea,” despite multiple sexual harrasment allegations.
Though Affleck reached an undisclosed settlement with both women, one of them has characterized the alleged incident as “the most traumatizing of her career.”
Like clockwork, voices are coming forward and insisting that the disparate treatment between the two is due to Hollywood’s racial intolerance problem.
“The double standard here belongs to left-wing Hollywood, and if this is not racism, if this is not a bunch of white leftists using the stereotype of the scary sexual black predator to signal their own precious virtue, please tell me what actual racism would look like,” John Nolte of The Daily Wire writes.
This, of course, comes after bloggers, pundits and many more blamed the film’s low performance on “petty Black women.” Though misguided, the frustration expressed is understandable; while “Manchester By The Sea” may very well be an intriguing drama, Parker’s film was an attempt to highlight a proud moment in Black history that is often excluded from the mainstream narrative.
But this cannot happen on the backs of women. And while Casey Affleck may not be ‘one of our own,’ Nate Parker surely is. For that, it is our duty to hold him accountable for his actions, words, or lack thereof.
The standard of accountability to which we hold both ourselves and others within our community to shouldn’t be lowered just for the sake of matching the standards of non-Black communities and groups. If mainstream America feels no need to hold the likes of Affleck, Roman Polanski, or Bernardo Bertolucci and Marlon Brando accountable for their violent misgivings, so be it.
If they can forgive sexual violence for the sake of a 100-minute film, so be it, but that is a trend we should not seek to emulate. As my mother used to ask me when I was a child, “Would you jump off a cliff just because everyone else was doing it?”
The idea of ‘community’ revolves around the belief that we are all responsible for one another, and can only be sustained through love, justice and respect, especially for those who are further marginalized due to gender, sexual orientation, ability and/or socioeconomic status. Though the woman in Parker’s case was white, Black women experience sexual violence at disproportionate rates in comparison to women of other races. And yes, most of the perpetrators are in fact Black men.
So while the accusations against Affleck might be easily disregarded by non-Black America, we cannot and have never been able to afford doing the same for Nate Parker.
Are we less supportive, less “down” or less loving of our ‘skinfolk’ just because we insist that they either 1) refrain from perpetuating gendered harm or 2) take responsibility and express remorse in the event that harm has already been committed?
Quite the contrary—we are better for it.